Several years ago I started playing with Google Maps, tinkering around with how to display, for example, the places that our Department had visited as part of outreach or public engagement events. This led me to start building a Classic Kit map, documenting who had made what and where. Very quickly it turned into a map of chemically significant places, like the postbox that William Ramsay posted the paper on the discovery of argon, where ferrocene was first isolated, and where Joseph Priestley was buried. It seemed like a fun project and I tried to crowdsource interest and failed totally. A couple of people added a spot or two, a few people emailed me, but that was about it. It slowly fizzled out, and then it just sat there. Until I had chat with the RSC’s wonderful Chiara Ceci (@chiara_ceci). We had a cup of tea in Gordon Square one afternoon and as I described what I’d done, good historian of science and enthusiast that she is, the lights came on big time.
The result – and the hard work and persistence in pushing this through is all hers, not mine – is the Places of Chemistry App that you can get on iTunes or for Android devices. Have a play. We really need to fill in more places, not just round London but across the UK, across Europe and everywhere else. It’s kind of fun to see the world through history of chemistry eyes and I hope that one day I’ll be able to find Guyton de Morveau’s grave, or the remains Dr Bender’s school where poor old Ernst Büchner was so unhappy.